The former head of China's secretive 6-10 Office arrived in Singapore on July 2 for a six- day visit. In the week following his visit Falun Gong adherents in that tiny country suddenly ran afoul of the law. Some say Singapore staged their arrests to curry favor with the Chinese Communist regime.
Li Lanqing is the former head of the 6-10 Office, the office that, according to Human Rights Watch, has directed the persecution of Falun Gong in China. Li is also a former vice-premier of China and a former member of the central committee of China's politburo. During his visit he was granted an honorary degree from the National University of Singapore.
On July 10, nine Falun Gong received a summons to appear in court on July 14 on a charge of "public assembly without a permit." Their court date has been rescheduled for July 21.
On July 12, Ms. Huang Caihua was arrested outside the Chinese Embassy on the charge of "deliberately causing a disturbance." She was practicing the Falun Gong exercises, while behind her stood a banner that mentioned Li Lanqing.
Ms. Terri Marsh is the Executive Director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Law Foundation. In 2005 she served as an advisor to Singaporean counsel for Falun Gong practitioners who had been arrested on the charge of "distributing videos without a permit," and has followed these latest developments closely.
According to Ms. Marsh, the case against the nine arrested on July 10 is ridiculous on the face of it. "The police in Singapore had videotaped these nine giving out fliers about the persecution of Falun Gong on October 22 and 23 in 2005. They waited nine months, and then notified the nine they had broken the law. What makes something on July 10 illegal that had been considered legal for the previous nine months?"
In the case of Ms. Huang, the police waited a full year before arresting her. According to sources in Singapore, Ms. Huang has for the past year practiced the Falun Gong exercises on a daily basis outside the Chinese Embassy. On July 12, ten plain clothes policemen approached her as soon as she began her exercises and escorted her to a waiting police van. The police say they had received phone calls complaining about Ms. Huang's presence.
Ms. Marsh sees a definite connection between these arrests and Li's visit. She says, "There is a pattern of arresting Falun Gong practitioners around the time of visits by Chinese Communist officials in countries around the world. Singapore did this to please the Chinese regime."
According to an article titled "To Please Communist China Singapore Prosecutes Practitioners for Unlawful Assembly" posted on the Falun Gong website Minghui, the arrests on July 10 and July 12 were the part of a series of actions against Falun Gong taken by the Singapore government following the announcement on May 28 of Li Lanqing's upcoming visit.
For instance, the article cites how major English-language media in Singapore published a series of articles slandering Falun Gong. These articles were republished in turn, according to Minghui, "by the mouthpiece of the Communist Party in China." These articles, Minghui says, referred to the distribution of fliers by Falun Gong practitioners as "disrupting public order." According to Minghui, this treatment of Falun Gong was inspired by the Singapore Home Affairs Minister Mr. Wong Kan Seng, who wished to put pressure on the Falun Gong practitioners.
The Chinese Communist Party has reason to be concerned when officials involved in the persecution of Falun Gong travel overseas. Li has been sued by Falun Gong practitioners for torture, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, New Zealand, Sweden, and Taiwan.
According to Marsh, although Li is listed as the "former" head of the 6-10 Office, he is still very much involved in the persecution of Falun Gong: "In China there is a clique loyal to Jiang Zemin, the former head of the CCP who began the persecution in 1999. Li is part of that, and they are set upon continuing the persecution."
The Press Secretary of the Singapore Home Affairs Office was not available to comment.
With reporting by Meihua Zhou.